All tv shows, movies, plays and books rely on one simple concept to be able to entertain. Their audience must willingly suspend their disbelief. We sit down in a movie theater knowing that there’s no way a human being could actually jump up into the sky and fly nor that animals can talk and sing or that people over the age of five write the scripts for Transformers movies.
We, as the audience, are collaborators with story tellers because without our compact with them to put aside reality for a brief period of time to buy into their scenarios, none of it would work. The deal is, we get to be entertained and they get to profit and have the satisfaction of successfully entertaining people.
Reality television is unique, it is presented to the public to appear authentic but is very often scripted in an indirect way or manipulated by the show’s producers to deliver the drama and outcomes desired.
Knowing all this makes it easier to understand why we have started off this Presidential election season with the debuts of the new reality tv shows, “Hillary For You!”, “Cruzin For a Bruzin'”, “Paul in the Family” and “Rubio’s Fishy Talkos” instead of earnest political campaigns…and why we as the public share the blame.
There’s such an obvious suspension of disbelief on our part as Americans that allows these “shows” to be broadcast and compete for ratings (the ultimate ratings in this American Idol type competition is the Presidential election in 2016). We all know that these reality shows, known as political campaigns, are not genuine.
Our problem is that we are too quick to buy into these “shows”, instead of demanding that presidential campaigns are about issues, we participate in the gotcha games, the pandering and the inflating of the banal into meaningful news stories because we like to be entertained (yes, it’s really a meaningful news story that Hillary ordered a burrito and guacamole at a Chipolte). We need to stop looking to political elections as entertainment and demand substance.
In the meantime…
Hillary Clinton literally launched her campaign with a tv commercial that as some have described, looks like an ad for life insurance or a cholesterol drug (“If you have an election lasting more than two years, seek immediate political attention to avoid long term injury to your democracy.”). That was just the first episode of “Hillary For You!”, here are the first three episodes in this season:
HILLARY FOR YOU!
Episode 1: “The Queen of Humility”
To attract more voters by convincing them she’s not as cocky as she was in 2007, Hillary releases an announcement video starring every calculated demographic group instead of herself, only appearing in a cameo role at the end and modestly asking to be given the leadership of the free world.
Episode 2: “A Chipolte Off the Old Block”
Trying to shrug off her actual elitist position in society, Hillary joins up with Shaggy and Scooby in her Mystery Machine van to cross the heartland of America, solving crimes against gastrointestinal discomfort by eating foods that typical Americans eat as if she actually has eaten them before and enjoys them.
Episode 3: “Getting Corny”
Hillary arrives in Iowa and visits with everyday people, trying to practice not looking completely bewildered by hearing how they live. Reporters try to get her to answer issue related questions but she only responds by eating fried sticks of butter.
On another channel, all the way over on the far right (Fox News), there are three other series running including this one:
RUBIO’S FISHY TALKOS
Episode 1: “Talkos Is Cheap”
Marco launches his Presidential campaign with one major theme, “Old people suck!” Targeting the Millennial generation and supporters of geronticide (killing the elderly), Rubio simultaneously positions himself against Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Medicare, Social Security and senior discounts on cat food.
Episode 2: “Old is the New New”
Marco flips the script on what’s new and what’s old, presenting his policies that would take America back to the past as “new ideas” and Hillary Clinton’s policies of improving wages and the standard of living for America as “the past”. Reporters swarm him as he leaves a screening of “Birth of a Nation” at a revival house and he tells them, “This is the best new movie of the year!”
Episode 3. “How Dry I Am”
Appearing at a campaign stop, Marco suddenly realizes as he begins his speech that there are no water bottles around. Refusing to give up, Marco’s voice gradually becomes weak and high pitched, causing a five year old boy in the crowd to ask his mother, “What’s that crazy lady saying?” After coughing and gasping and rolling on his back flailing his arms and legs, his aides return with a hose and hose him down until he’s fully hydrated and able to get back on his feet.
Then there’s this underwhelming series:
PAUL IN THE FAMILY
Episode 1: “Opposites Attract”
Rand makes the big announcement that he’s running for President and proclaims that he supports positions he opposed and opposes positions he supported. Everything’s upside-down for Rand, especially his poll numbers!
Episode 2: “The He-Man Woman Haters Club”
In a series of interviews with women journalists, Rand goes out of his way to insult them for asking him questions but doesn’t do the same to men. He has to defend himself from the charge of being disrespectful to women so he responds by insulting Hillary Clinton.
Episode 3: “Rand, I Am Your Father!”
Rand has his hands full when his kooky dad, Ron, talks to reporters about ending Medicare, Social Security, the Post Office and police and fire services as well as marriage, national parks and forcing people to drive on one side of the street.
Lastly, there’s this wacky series:
CRUZIN’ FOR A BRUZIN’
Episode 1: “Imagination Nation”
Ted attends a rally to proclaim his run for the Presidency and tells America that his campaign is all about imagining things, explaining that his track record shows that it’s something he’s very good at doing. Top on his imaginary list of course, is his having a good chance to become President.
Episode 2: “Money Honey”
Billionaire Bob Mercer wants to back Ted Cruz’s campaign but only to stop the IRS from making him have to pay billions in back taxes he owes. He warns Ted that he’ll have to sacrifice his principles, ethics and reputation to do as he’s told in exchange for millions in campaign funding. Ted pretends to know what Bob’s talking about.
Episode 3: “Iran and Ran”
Ted runs on stopping the Obama’s deal to keep Iran from making nuclear weapons in favor of bombing Iran and is thrown back on the defensive when a photo shows up on the internet of him romantically kissing Dick Cheney.
No need to set your DVR, these shows will be replayed every day on all the news channels.
This is an absolute treasure, AdLib!
Well being as I don’t see much of your TV fiascos, and hardly ever watch CNN International, I’m just going to have to use my imagination. The upside is that the GOP never change so it’s easy to imagine the dumb and outrageous things that will surely be said, and of course somewhere I will read about it, smack my head on the table or yawn.
Brilliant piece. Superbly written, and worth reading again anytime we are feeling a bit low.
Thanks as always.
Sorry about the delay, have been dealing with an email monster who ate all of my emails but have just administered a strong laxative so things should improve soon. Don’t stand too near to your computer though. 😉
If you find a red sock, could you please send it back to me? It’s a favourite and the other one is lonely.
“Who wants to Be A Millionaire” won’t get any takers. they’re already there.
PPO, the Official 2016 Presidential Election show could be titled, “American Idle…Rich”.
I wish I could give this more than 5 stars, AdLib. So funny and incisive!
And — just think — we’re only at the beginning of this season. So many more shows yet to be announced…
There’s the “Uncle Ben Carson Hour” with step-by-step instructions on how to perform a lobotomy on yourself, from a surgeon who’s had plenty of experience in that specialty.
Then we have “Leave It To Walker,” with Beaver Walker and Lumpy Kasich engaging in madcap adventures in backyard budget-slashing.
Followed by “America’s Top Model,” featuring the lovely C. Christie Brinksman with musical backup supplied by “The Bridgeclosers.”
And finally — a new season of that old favorite — “The Walking Brain-Dead,” starring Rick Count-on-my-fingers-before-they-fall-off Perry.
Still in the works are the Huckabee and Santorum shows, which are currently being evaluated by network boss, Bibi Netanyahu, to make sure they clear censorship requirements. Updates to follow.
Kes, thanks so much!!!
Very funny stuff!
We might as well name those other shows though, how about “Huckabee Hound”, the adventures of a blue dog from the South that is “The Biggest Clown in Town”:
“Santorum Is Coming to Town”, a holiday story about the evil Santorumberger Bergersantorum who passes a law that outlaws all people in town from having sex toys.
Awesome! That rounds out the entire group perfectly.
And that’s the way they became “The Shady Bunch.”
Well done , Ad.
I for one can’t wait for debates. HRC and or Bernie Sanders will make fools of the clowns the GOP have out there. The Republicans lie about everything and debates will bring that fact to light. At least to those who pay attention.
Nirek, I’m looking forward even more to the GOP debates! Watching them slap each other around to try and be the most extremist, hateful and intolerant to win over those types who make up the core of the GOP will be the most entertaining series on tv!
Think about it, Rand, Cruz, Rubio, Huckabee, Perry, Christie, Fiorina, it’s like an SNL cast of loons! We should have a betting pool on who says the most outrageous thing and who is the first to drop out after a horrendous gaffe.
Ad, lets do that. How do we organize a betting pool on the looniest of the loons? Right now it is a toss up!
Dr Ben Carson is just plain fucking crazy. I don’t think he understands what he says or talks about! Serious mental.
OK – I’ll buy media manipulation, but at least Hillary opted for REAL people and REAL images. I’m no longer waiting for Godot – I get that reality sucks and policy to most people is boring. So I’m looking for someone who has enough empathy with the rest of us to keep maintaining what we have, expanding it if we can, and keeping a finger off that ol’ red button that will blow us to smithereens. Hillary’s all we have. The alternatives are unthinkable.
CL – So far, Hillary is all we have. So far. We didn’t accept that as inescapable though in 2007 and kept ourselves open to other possibilities and things worked out pretty well.
As to the “show” Hillary’s putting on now, I agree that the plot points are those that Dems and Progressives want to see but this is all so calculated. She is playing the role of the humble elitist wearing populist clothes but this is a costume, she’s putting on a show. I wouldn’t bank on her keeping the plot the same if she becomes President.
Just months ago she was dissing Obama and aggressively courting Republicans by supporting war, more of their issues and their dislike of Obama. When that backfired and faced with the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Dems not supporting her, she’s changed the character she’s playing but she is playing a character and a scenario that is calculated to win over the voters she needs.
She wants to win, has a huge braintrust working with her to craft her public persona and “show” for one central reason, so that she wins, not because she has been a crusader previously on any of the issues she now claims are so important to her.
That said, her show is absolutely far better than the shows and characters that the Repubs are playing out. They’re doing the same thing but in my mind, they’re far more obvious because they’re so similarly conformed to the same “outraged warrior against ‘them'” who wants to take the country back for old, white and Fundamentalist Christians.
These Repubs are more cynical IMO, they know that they’re all trying to outdo each other in promising bullshit they know would never come to pass (“Imagine the end of the IRS!” “Imagine the Bible being the highest law of the land!”). They’re all just playing the rubes to get their votes and telling them huge fantasies about how they’ll pander to them if elected…just to get elected.
Not to say that they wouldn’t do their best to sabotage all that they see as an obstacle to their “cult” having supreme and lasting power (and their backers greatly increasing their wealth and avoiding taxes) but their universal faux outrage at manufactured offenses is the script they all follow like bad actors (every meaning of that phrase intended).
Is Hillary a better potential President than any Republican? Yes. Would most Dems be pleased with her stands on many policies if she was elected? Might they also be displeased with many of her policies, far more than Obama? I think so.
But a realist about Presidential campaigns and how manipulative they necessarily are today, has to question if she truly believes the more liberal and Progressive things she says at this point in the campaign or is she just trying to make sure she isn’t outflanked on the left and beaten by another Barack Obama and may abandon her support of these positions if she did win? I think it’s the latter.
I can’t wait until the episode where Rubio discovers he’s Ted Cruz’ Son from a secret liaison with Sarah Palin, and flees to Cuba to set up a new branch of the Tea Party! Telemundo, here I come!
PPO – THAT is a script I’d not thought of, and it purely rocks! Rubio can run for president – of CUBA!!!! Works for me.
PPO – My favorite upcoming Rubio episode is titled “What?! I’m a Sea Monkey?”, where he finds out that he was actually adopted by his parents and is actually a Sea Monkey. This explains the backstory as to why he’s always thirsty and looks constantly like a fish out of water.